Why curiosity?

In this research project, I am interested in examining

  • ideas and ideals about curiosity (When we assume that a child is naturally curious, or that a learner should be curious, what kind of children and learners are we inventing?)
  • feelings and emotions around curiosity (When we suggest that curiosity should feel like something, or that it should generate certain emotions towards its objects, what are we invested in?)
  • genealogies of curiosity (How have we come to think and feel about curiosity in the ways that we currently do?)

My intention is not to define curiosity, to pin it down and say “this is what it should be.” Rather, the purpose is to rethink what is most often taken as self-evident about curiosity; to challenge the assumption about curiosity as a boundless and harmless orientation of interest and wonder towards the unknown, different, Other.

I connect this research to broader discussions on

  • the making of the nation and the (global) citizen, particularly in education and travel
  • the (post and neo) colonial order of things in cultural-educational practices
  • the history of education and educational science

Project partners

Prof Anssi Paasi, University of Oulu, Finland
Prof Thomas Popkewitz, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Prof Kristiina Brunila, University of Helsinki, Finland
Prof Christopher Kirchgasler, University of Kansas, USA
Dr Kaisa Vehkalahti, University of Oulu, Finland
Dr Maija Lanas, University of Oulu, Finland


The project began in 2017 with four months’ funding from the Emil Aaltonen Foundation. It has also received two years’ funding from the Alfred Kordelin Foundation through the Finnish Foundations’ Post Doc Pool (August 2017 to July 2019) and three years’ funding from the Academy of Finland (September 2018 to August 2021, project number 315141).